Yet another study links workplace bullying to suicides. When is enough enough?

When will bullying in the workplace get on the news? Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill is something to pay attention too. Hopefully they will be the first ones in the country to have a bill in place to protect workers.

Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill

Tired woman in the officeWe reported earlier this year that a Norwegian study revealed that bullied targets are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than those who were never bullied. Pioneer Heinz Leymann estimated that 10 percent of those bullied take their lives, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).

Researchers defined bullying as harassment, badgering, and freezing out that:

  • Occurred repeatedly over a period of time.
  • Involved two parties in which one had a higher ranking than the other.

It happens so often that there’s now a term for it. “Bullycide” happens when the cause of suicide is attributable to the victim having been bullied.

Now researchers in Australia report similar findings. In June 2016, Australian researchers determined that workplace bullying or harassment was associated with 1.54 greater odds of suicide ideation.

How workplace bullying can lead any of us to suicide (“bullycide”)

Findings show that none of us have a thick enough skin to be exempt from the…

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In the news

Great information and resources being shared by David Yamada. Please stay tuned to the situations around bullying and sexual harassments in the workplace. It affects everyone.

Minding the Workplace

It has been a year of prominent news stories related to the workplace, especially the avalanche of accounts concerning sexual harassment. Here are many of the 2017 news stories in which I’ve been quoted or where my work has been discussed:

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Urgent: hold employers accountable for bullying employees

The organization has to be accountable and liable for bullying in the workplace. Why aren’t they and why isn’t there a law in place to protect the victims and witnesses? It has not impacted them enough in the pocket or not enough have died. Check out this blog from Massachusetts healthy workplace bill called: Urgent: hold employers accountable for bullying employees

Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill

OrangeGoalWith only eight months left in the two-year legislative session and more retailers and business organizations opposing the workplace anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, Senate Bill 1013 (an act against workplace bullying and mobbing), we need to act quickly.

Your action is vital to progress the bill. Here’s how it works: Legislators want to act based on what their own constituents want so they can get re-elected and keep working for you. Telling them what you want and their taking action matters for both your empowerment and your future vote. And the more of us who contact our legislators asking them to write to Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Paul Brodeur, the more urgency the committee will feel to move the bill to the Senate. We need as many people as possible to make this urgency happen.

We thank those who’ve setup meetings with your state legislators to tell them…

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New study says teachers experience workplace bullying more than 3x as often as other workers

Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill posted that a new study says teachers experience workplace bullying more than 3x as often as other workers! This will be an interesting read. Keep up to date with the Massachusetts efforts on passing a workplace bullying bill.

Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill

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“Educators experience workplace bullying at a much higher rate — more that three times as high — than other workers,” say researchers in the newly published 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey, released by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Badass Teachers Association. This year, 830 AFT members, educators in two New York school districts “where educator unions have built strong collaborative labor-management practices on the quality of their work life,” and an additional 4,000 educators responded to their 30-question survey.

Most educators surveyed reported that their schools have workplace harassment policies prohibiting bullying, yet bullying still happens at a high frequency. Stress from workplace bullying is compounded by large workloads, feelings of having to be “always on,” a lack of resources, changing expectations, deficient building conditions, equipment and staff shortages, and insufficient time to prepare and collaborate with colleagues — in other words, limited feelings of respect, control, and…

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Ending sexual harassment at work means ending workplace bullying, says today’s LA Times

Wow the news is on overload! How do we keep up? It’s tough but we need to know what is going on with bullying and how it impacts the workplace along with the individuals. Bullying is a long lasting with deep impacts to individuals victims and witnesses. Check out this most recent one discussing sexual harassment.

Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill

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For the first time since the Harvey Weinstein scandal became public, a major publication made the connection between sexual harassment and workplace bullying, even noting the workplace anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill and its author David Yamada.

This article’s a big deal.

In today’s LA Times article “To end sexual harassment on the job, end workplace bullying,” Reporter David Lieberman says:

Legislators can do more to address the problem. They can make workplace bullying illegal. Too many corporate leaders find it expedient to look the other way when bosses — especially ones they deem indispensable — systematically intimidate and humiliate underlings. Bullies who believe that their whims matter more than other people’s dignity often don’t see why their sexual impulses shouldn’t be just as indulged.

Lieberman adds:

Abused employees would be able to go to court if states or Congress adopted laws like the Healthy Workplace Bill, proposed by Suffolk University…

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The Workplace-what’s your role after 8/12/17?

Is there a role for the workplace to implement and engage a little dialog with their employees after 8/12/17 in Charlottesville, Virginia? Well I sure hope they do and now is the time. Things are changing daily in the workplace and as well as our communities. We  witnessed what happened in Charlottesville and what is still going on across the United States. Some of us where there and others were watching it via the news media. We all feel it. There are individuals who took a stance to denounced the ugliness and hate, which is not only in Charlottesville, but in other communities across the nation. It has sent shock waves throughout the world and the emotions are running high. We have seen the local communities, businesses as well as local governments step up and lead the charge, as they should. There are some roots to all of this ugliness with connections to plain old bullying. It needs to be dealt with. People with opposing views sometimes can not control there tension and get out of control.

So I ask you – Employers what is your role when something occurs like it did in Charlottesville in your area. Yes, we all have free speech, but when it turns into violence, what do you need to do? What’s your responsibility? Do you have any responsibility? These are things you and your CEOs and Board of Directors need to discuss. We know the hate mongers are amongst us. They look and act just like me and you. Beware! They are everywhere and it affects each and every one of us.  The CEO of the nonprofit I work for  put out a letter to the employees and to the community. Other organizations did the same thing, such as the Charlottesville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence organization ( and more. it was amazing to see the organiztions coming together and stating their views in the public on the current situation. ( Does your organization has any policies on this type of behavior i.e.; rallies, etc.,  or even harassment type activities? What about conflict resolution or mediation? Are you covered to handle these situations if they arise at your workplace? Bullying can begin at various levels within an organization and be dressed in a disguise. Bullying likes and feeds off of chaos!

So one suggestion is to educate your organization on what bullying in the workplace is, along with the impacts and costs to your organization. Organizations need to know how to handle crisis and violence when it is near or in our workplaces. We know there is not a federal law in place to combat the horrific act of bullying in the workplace. So organizations will have to be prepared to respond to these type of issues in case they come into your hometown. I would like to suggest the following steps to be considered and hope it gives organizations a starting point-and gets people to the table for some good old fashion discussions.

  1. Acknowledge that this could happen in your area. Your town might be the next Charlottesville and there could be impacts to your employees and your organization. Identify what those impacts could be and how it might affect your organization.
  2. Take your organization’s temperature-what are you hearing, feeling, and seeing? Are the employees displaying any fears, do you see an increase in time off or not showing up to work. Do you have a known bully feeding off of what is happening in the media? What is the water cooler chit-chat? Has production slowed down? Do any of the employees have relatives or connections to Charlottesville or other areas where the community is in a crisis mode?
  3. Gather the leaders of your organization – begin the conversation-ask yourselves what is your responsibilities and liabilities? How can you help each other though this? Decide who else needs to be at the table. Maybe local law enforcement and your organization’s attorney should have a seat. Ensure that the leaders/department heads are all in agreement and will all deliver the same message and support. If not, there should be another conversation planned.
  4. Have your Human Resources Director (HR) at the table-they have knowledge on various employee assistance programs and more. Also, they are very capable to conduct some research which you might need to aid in some decision-making. HR also can help with developing a plan of action. They can take the lead on the communication activities with the employees.
  5. Set some Goals of what you expect to achieve. Three and no more than five are more than enough. It’s okay if it is only one goal. Will it solve an issue? But make a goal, share what the goal is and how you expect to achieve it. This might involve policy changes. An example would be communicating a new policy of a zero tolerance of bullying, harassment, or supporting any form of White Supremacy type activities. If a new policy will be developed make sure you address if any employees are involved in various ways, and if their job would be in jeopardy.
  6. Make a Plan. How you will address the issues? Look and have dialog with other communities who are also dealing with the same issues or simply wanting to communicate some positive information and support. Within the plan its a good idea to include  a timeline and who is going to do what within your organization. Will you have the CEO or each department head to address the issues individually or as a group. I would suggest and hope it is the organization as a whole.  Make sure you have a “check in” period to see how it is going and have something in place to measure your success. Simply conducting a survey might be all you need.
  7. Make a decision on how you will communicate the information-one or two meetings or more. You will have to agree on how you will agree or disagree by consensus or majority. Make sure it is explained that its okay to disagree and be able to build a better consensus. Discuss how will it be communicated to not only to the employees but to the community they are in and serve. It should state the organization’s position. Also what mode of commuication will it be in; writing via a letter, blog, postings of signs/displays. Don’t discount the use of social media also as a form of communication.  You could consider setting up “listening posts” in designated areas at your organization or put out a podcast for employees. You want to have the door open and the table set to just allow employees to talk and share their feelings and positions. The recent activities in Charlottesville are very emotional and can have deep impacts to mental health of individuals and it will impact our ability to do our jobs.
  8. Offer employee assistance if you currently don’t have one in place people need to talk these type of things out. Is there counselors available in your community to assist your organization? You also want to ensure the employees this will be a safe place to share their feelings without judgement or the threat of losing their jobs. Actions will get people in trouble quicker than their thoughts.

Here are some links to assist with gathering information:

It is recommended to get educated on bullying in the workplace or reading about violence in the workplace. There are numerous studies available on the Internet or from University site. I am including my study on the perceptions of bullying in the workplace which provides a background and the perceptions of bullying in the workplace from witnesses view :

Here is an event that is planned via live streaming addressing bullying in the workplace, including the violence and harassment.

This article was recently in the local news. The employer recognized one of its employees at the Charlottesville rally and they terminated the employment:

Visit the Society of Human Resources.  They have numerous articles and studies available which can offer program suggestions to aid in your decision-making.

Healthy Working Lives:

Workplace bullying:

If you have questions or other suggestions on how your organization has or will addressed anything like this, please feel free to share.

Thank you for reading!


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Bullying in the workplace continues. You can read articles daily that link to bullying and the damage it causes. To date there is no law on the books that will stop the madness happening in the workplaces around the country. Employees and Employers need to educate themselves on how to combat the horrendous acts happening in the workplaces. Here is a great website to obtain additional information on bullying in the work place. Feel free to share with your human resources office.

On this site, you can see up to date studies and statistics. There are videos that are educational and also survey results.

Here is a study that takes on the witnesses perspective:

I ask you – what is your organization doing about the bullying at your workplace? Would you mind sharing some tips?

Be safe and care!

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